Sep 28

The History of IVF

History of IVF - San Antonio, TX

Posted on September 28, 2018 — by Joseph E. Martin, M.D., FACOG

Cryopreservation for IVF fertility treatmentAccording to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were were 231,936 fertility treatment cycles performed in America in 2015. In vitro fertilization (IVF) played a role in 99 percent of all fertiliy treatments that year. The team at the Fertility Center of San Antonio can perform IVF to address male, female, and mixed infertility. Of course, the success of IVF is built on decades of research, development, and medical innovation.

Dr. Joseph E. Martin and his team of San Antonio, TX fertility specialists would like to cover some key moments in the history of IVF. This should give you an idea of how much effort went in to making IVF the effective procedure it is today.

1920s-1960s: Laying the Groundwork for IVF

In order for IVF to be a viable option for treatment, a lot of groundwork needed to be laid initially, most of it involving an understanding of hormones and the development of medications to regulate these hormones. These innovations occurred from the 1920s to the 1960s.

A brief outline of these events are noted below:

  • 1923 - The female fertility hormone estrogen is identified
  • 1929 - The female fertility hormone progesterone is identified
  • 1943 - Fertility hormone supplements are developed
  • 1960s - Fertility drugs are developed

Thanks to fertility drugs and supplements, fertility specialists are able to control hormones and properly time all stages of the IVF procedure to increase the chances of success.

The 1950s: IVF Testing on Animals

Testing with IVF techniques occurred throughout the 1950s on animals. In 1959, Dr. Min Chueh Chang at the Worcester Foundation performed the first successful IVF procedure on rabbits. Dr. Chang’s revolutionary research showed that it was possible to transfer a lab-fertilized embryo into the womb and achieve pregnancy and live birth.

The Early-to-Mid 1970s: First Human IVF Attempts

It would take time for Dr. Chang’s research would be effective in humans, though attempts were made throughout the first half of the 1970s. In 1973, The Lancet reported that an Australian research team at Monash University achieved the first human pregnancy through IVF, though the pregnancy only lasted a few days. In 1976, there were reports of a non-viable ectopic pregnancy through IVF.

In addition to these failed IVF attempts, there was a controversial attempt at performing IVF in New York City. In 1973, Dr. Landrum Shettles tried to perform an IVF procedure in secret at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Since this was done without oversight by a research committee, the procedure was thwarted by Dr. Shettles’ supervisor.

1978: The First Human Birth from IVF

The first successful pregnancy and live birth from IVF was in England, performed by Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Dr. Robert Edwards. The procedure resulted in the birth of Louise Brown on July 25, 1978. She is still alive and healthy today.

A second child born via IVF was recorded around this time in India by Dr. Subash Mukhopadyay, an otherwise unknown physician in the country. The IVF live birth remains controversial, however, since Dr. Mukhopadyay’s research was done using primitive equipment and without proper oversight by the India’s medical community.

The 1980s: IVF Becomes Mainstream Fertility Treatment

While IVF proved it could be successful in the late 1970s, it would take a few more years before IVF went from research to mainstream medical treatment. Further refinements were made to lab techniques and the administration of fertility drugs to help make IVF the popular procedure it is today.

Contact Fertility Center of San Antonio

To learn more about IVF and how it can help you start a family of your own, be sure to contact the Fertility Center of San Antonio. We can answer all of your questions and address your concerns. Our office can be reached by phone at (210) 692-0577.

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